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Seborrheic keratoses (say "seh-buh-REE-ick kair-uh-TOH-seez") are skin growths that some people get as they age. They are benign, which means they aren't a type of cancer. The way they look may bother you, but they aren't harmful.
These skin growths often appear on the back or chest, but they can occur on any part of the body. They grow slowly and seldom go away on their own.
These skin growths are common in middle-aged and older people, but they can appear as early as the teen years. Some women get them during pregnancy or after taking estrogen. Children seldom have them.
Experts don't know what causes seborrheic keratoses. But research has found that:
Seborrheic keratoses can itch, bleed easily, or become red and irritated when clothing rubs them.
How the growths look can vary widely. They:
Your doctor will look at the skin growth. He or she may need to take a sample (biopsy) of the growth if it's not clear what the growth is or if it:
Seborrheic keratoses don't need to be treated. But if one bothers you or you don't like how it looks, your doctor can remove it. Your doctor may:
A diagnosed seborrheic keratosis usually is nothing to worry about. But if you are unsure what type of skin growth you have, see your doctor. It may be hard to tell whether the growth is a keratosis, a mole, a wart, or skin cancer.
While it isn't common, skin cancer can grow in a seborrheic keratosis. So if you have a seborrheic keratosis that is growing fast, looks unusual, or is bleeding or causing pain, see your doctor or dermatologist.
Learning about seborrheic keratoses:
|American Academy of Dermatology|
|P.O. Box 4014|
|Schaumburg, IL 60168|
|Phone:||1-866-503-SKIN (1-866-503-7546) toll-free
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) provides information about the care of skin. You can locate a dermatologist in your area by using their "Find a Dermatologist" tool. Or you can read the latest news in dermatology. "SPOT Skin Cancer" is the AAD's program to reduce deaths from melanoma. There is also a link called "Skin Conditions" that has information about many common skin problems.
Other Works Consulted
- Habif TP, et al. (2011). Seborrheic keratosis. In Skin Disease: Diagnosis and Treatment, 3rd ed., pp. 424–433. Edinburgh: Saunders.
- Hall JC (2010). Tumors of the skin. In JC Hall, ed., Sauer's Manual of Skin Diseases, 10th ed., pp. 208–304. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
- Motley RJ (2010). Seborrheic keratosis. In MG Lebwohl et al., eds., Treatment of Skin Disease, 3rd ed., pp. 697–698. Edinburgh: Saunders Elsevier.
|Primary Medical Reviewer||Kathleen Romito, MD - Family Medicine|
|Specialist Medical Reviewer||Amy McMichael, MD - Dermatology|
|Last Revised||January 22, 2013|
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